Scott Marks 9 a.m., Dec. 18
A mesmerizing start — a magical nightmare journey through a gleaming modern airport, through a torrential downpour, and through some inexplicable colored lights. And along the way, some teasing, ominous episodes that do not actually come to anything. One in an underlit, indoor swimming pool is fraught with voyeuristic menace, and another in an eerily red-lit makeshift dormitory has a breathy, gossipy excitement. However, a couple of the big fright scenes are pretty piddling (one about a horde of maggots, another about a pesty bat); the pacing is often inert; and the voguish supernatural element results in some terribly incoherent plotting. Through thick and thin, director Dario Argento maintains a fanatical devotion to image-seeking (every shot packs a wallop), and a surrealist's love of gratuitous sensation. Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, and Udo Kier. 1977.
- Rated R